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Species Guide

White-shouldered Tanager

Loriotus luctuosus

The White-shouldered Tanager, known scientifically as Loriotus luctuosus, is a medium-sized passerine bird, a member of the Thraupidae family. It is a bird of striking contrasts, with males donning a glossy black plumage set off by a vivid white shoulder patch and underwing coverts. Females and immatures present a more subdued palette, with olive upperparts, yellow underparts, and a grey head and neck. These birds measure approximately 14 cm in length and weigh around 14 g, with a long tail and a stout, pointed bill that is mostly black.

Identification Tips

To identify the White-shouldered Tanager, look for the male's distinctive white shoulder patch, which is the most salient feature distinguishing it from the similar but larger White-lined Tanager. The female and immature birds can be recognized by their olive and yellow coloration, with a grey head and neck.


This species is found in forests and cocoa plantations, where it breeds and forages. It constructs a bulky cup nest within the low vegetation.


The White-shouldered Tanager is a resident breeder with a range extending from Honduras through Panama, into South America as far south as Ecuador and southern Brazil, and is also present on the island of Trinidad.


These tanagers are restless in nature, often joining other insectivorous birds in wandering feeding flocks. They exhibit a preference for insects in their diet but will also consume fruit on occasion.

Song & Calls

The song of the White-shouldered Tanager is a rapid and repetitive "tchirrup," a sound that punctuates the air of its natural habitat.


The female lays three cream eggs, each marked with brown blotches, in the carefully constructed cup nest nestled among the lower branches and shrubs.

Similar Species

The White-shouldered Tanager is often compared to the White-lined Tanager. However, the White-shouldered Tanager can be distinguished by its more prominent white shoulder patch and smaller size.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the White-shouldered Tanager primarily consists of insects, including stick insects. They are also known to occasionally supplement their diet with fruit.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List has classified the White-shouldered Tanager as Least Concern, indicating that, currently, there are no immediate threats to its population levels that would warrant a higher degree of conservation action.

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White-shouldered Tanagers on Birda


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Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager

Anisognathus igniventris
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